The 222-page civil complaint asks the Supreme Court of New York to bar Trump, as well as Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, from serving as directors of any New York company, and to bar the Trump organization to acquire commercial real estate or receive loans from any financial institution registered in New York for five years.
He is seeking to recover more than $250 million in what James’ office says are ill-gotten gains received through the alleged deceptive practices. Although the lawsuit itself is not a criminal prosecution, James (D) said she reported possible violations of federal law to the Justice Department and the IRS.
Trump attorney Alina Habba dismissed the allegations as politically motivated, saying in a statement that the attorney general’s claims were “baseless.”
The lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court, is the result of a more than two-year investigation by James and names 23 properties in the Trump Organization portfolio, including his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, his Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, NY, and the DC hotel he leased to the federal government until he sold it in May.
“Inflated valuations of assets in statements cannot be discounted or excused as merely the result of an exaggeration or good faith estimate on which reasonable real estate professionals may differ,” it says.
This adds to a growing list of legal challenges Trump faces more than 18 months after leaving the White House and at a time when he remains actively involved in Republican politics and has widely suggested he will run for office again. the presidency in 2024.
In addition to personally naming Trump and three of his children, the suit names the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s longtime chief financial officer who recently pleaded guilty to tax crimes, and comptroller Jeffrey McConney.
The status of the main investigations involving Donald Trump
Trump and his family have repeatedly called James’ investigation a “witch hunt,” pointing to statements James made during the campaign trail in which she promised to investigate him. They denied any wrongdoing.
“Today’s brief is neither fact-driven nor legal–rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s policy agenda,” Habba said in his statement. “We are confident that our justice system will not tolerate this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each of the Attorney General’s baseless claims.
Rather than narrowly focus on a few cases of misconduct, James’ office described Trump, his family and his leaders as employing a wide range of fraudulent tactics in their dealings with lenders and regulators, even though they knew that they were illegal. The lawsuit highlights Trump’s practice of handing out financial disclosure statements that inflate the value of his properties and sometimes exaggerate the number of acres those properties cover or the number of homes that could be built on them.
Defense lawyers said in court that commercial real estate companies routinely argue for lower tax assessments and that the company’s conduct was no different, but James said on Wednesday that the erroneous assessments could not be characterized as “honest error”.
The former president and his family should be held to the same standards as ordinary Americans, James told a news conference in Manhattan, noting that it’s illegal for people to lie to banks in order to get loans to send their kids to college or get a home loan.
“To say that you have money that you don’t is not the art of the transaction. It’s the art of theft,” James said, mocking the title of Donald Trump’s 1987 book. “There can’t be different rules for different people in this country or in this state.”
This is a developing story. It will be updated.
O’Connell reported from Washington.